Saturday, June 02, 2007

Why I Hate Rewrites

I'm in the midst of rewriting my opening seven pages for the Emerald City Opener Contest. I've now, officially, spent half an hour staring at potential first sentences and agonizing that I might not pick the perfect one. So now I'm soliciting opinions from others. Which one do you like better? HELP ME!

Option A: "In the midst of her boyfriend’s achingly appropriate birthday party, Jessica Jo Carter began to think seriously about leaving him."


Option B: "If it hadn’t been for the Gouda cheese, Jessica Carter’s whole life would have been entirely different."

I modeled that second sentence off of my favorite opening line of all time. Bonus points for anyone who can identify the original! (And if you are one of my friends that regularly visits this website but doesn't leave comments... please make an exception just this once!)


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I prefer the first one. It's amusing, without seeming like it is trying to be so, as well as gets right to the point. And it has already told you a little something about what two of the characters are about, making me want to see what happens next.

Of course, that could just be me, thinking "Hee-hee, this guy is going to get dumped. Fun!"

Does your summer start soon? I may be coming home in the next week or so, by the way. Call me, and I'll tell you about it.


Renée said...

"If it had not rained on a certain May morning Valancy Stirling's whole life would have been entirely different." The Blue Castle.

HA! LMM is the bomb. I just spent all of yesterday afternoon watching Anne of Green Gables, actually. It rained all day. I had a cold. Delightful conditions for sitting on a couch and watching one of my favorite movies.

I like the second opening line. Maybe that's because I like cheese, and LMM. I change my mind often, however, (but not about cheese or LMM) so take my "vote" with a grain of salt.

nicole said...

I like the first one, Blue Castle reference notwithstanding.

It feels less obvious.

Shelli Stevens said...

Oh yay! I'm so excited you're entering. I definitely like the second line. It has a better hook! You had me at Gouda cheese. :)

Kate D. said...

Oh, we are split evenly down the middle! So, it appears, am I. And then I came stumbling across this old document file, which is in the wrong POV but oh-so-fun:

When I told my friends I was moving back to the west coast, half of them applauded my return to tall timber. The other half, mostly New England natives, wondered what had possessed me to abandon the cultural center of the universe.
I’d already bucked the post-collegiate trend towards moving to New York and pursuing finance or law. Instead I’d squandered a year in parochial Massachusetts, living behind a gas station and teaching fifth graders their state capitals. Everyone thought I was crazy to even contemplate returning to a small town riddled with Republicans. Now that I'd made up my mind, they were convinced I’d be miserable and depressed by Christmas.
“What the hell are you going to do back there?” Simon asked me. “Work at a Wal-Mart? Marry a Mormon?”
I deeply regretted letting him see me naked.

Why, oh why, is it so much easier to write in the first person?

And why have I been afflicted with
perfectionist ADHD? I need to stop dwelling and just move forward. Any advice? How does one do that? The opening chapter just begs for obsessive-compulsive rewriting.

Maybe I'm just nervous. The fact is that I've been puttering for a very long time. Once I send this contest entry in, other people will read it. I will be judged. Mercifully, by kind people, I am sure, but judged.

Ugh. I think I'm skipping the Gouda. It's fun, but I have no idea what the second sentence would be. Besides, starting with break-up feelings taps into my judgmental self, and we all know that she's a fun Katie to have at parties...

Ask me again in half an hour and I'm sure I'll have changed my mind again. At any rate, thanks for your help!

theflitgirl said...

Options A decidedly prefered (my Valancy obsessiveness non-withstanding).

My advice is this-- total dispassion. After the third round of rewrites I no longer saw my book as something I'd written, but rather as something I was revising. Kind of weird, but it allowed me to chop, sever and disect with reckless abandon.

I would appreciate advice on how to regain the love of the first draft, however, as Aimee and Gregory are in a holding pattern. One of those aggressively awkward chapters than seems to "stain backward" with yuckiness the rest of my writing (yes, another Valancy reference).

erica said...

Oooh, I adore the cheese opening!

A. R. said...

I'm rather sorry that the school year is over! Everyone loved you and your class. I sincerely hope that as the years drag on that you don't become jaded to the passion you now show for teaching and learning. I hope that you continue to love your classes and have fun with your curriculum. Your enthusiasm inspired me to work harder. Have a great summer!

JaneB said...

Gotta say i Like A. It hooks me and isn't that crucial! It makes me wonder why she wants to ditch him, and want to read to find out. Again another crucial - you gotta keep us reading.
I can totally understand your angst in rewriting the beginning. Am doing the same at the moment for my historical and deleting most of the 1st chapter! Scary stuff.
Good luck with ur revisions

Jane Beckenham